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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31759

Title: The West Indian Mission to West Africa: The Rio Pongas Mission, 1850-1963
Authors: Gibba, Bakary
Advisor: Klein, Martin
Department: History
Keywords: Mission History
Upper Guinea Coast
West Indies
Rio Pongas
Issue Date: 9-Jan-2012
Abstract: This thesis investigates the efforts of the West Indian Church to establish and run a fascinating Mission in an area of West Africa already influenced by Islam or traditional religion. It focuses mainly on the Pongas Mission’s efforts to spread the Gospel but also discusses its missionary hierarchy during the formative years in the Pongas Country between 1855 and 1863, and the period between 1863 and 1873, when efforts were made to consolidate the Mission under black control and supervision. Between 1873 and 1900 when more Sierra Leonean assistants were hired, relations between them and African-descended West Indian missionaries, as well as between these missionaries and their Eurafrican host chiefs, deteriorated. More efforts were made to consolidate the Pongas Mission amidst greater financial difficulties and increased French influence and restrictive measures against it between 1860 and 1935. These followed an earlier prejudiced policy in the mission that was strongly influenced by the hierarchical nature of nineteenth-century Barbadian society, which was abandoned only after successive deaths and resignations of white superintendents and the demonstrated ability of black pastors to independently run the Mission. Instrumentalism aided the conversion process and the increased flow of converts threatened both the traditional belief systems and social order of the Pongas Country, resulting in confrontation between the Mission and traditional religion worshippers, while the lack of more legitimate trade in the Pongas Country and allegations of black missionaries’ illicit sexual relations and illegal trading caused the downfall of John Henry A. Duport, the Mission’s first black Head Missionary. In the late 1800s, efforts to establish a self-supporting, self-generating, and self-propagating church together with initiatives toward African agency in the Pongas Country failed. However, it was French activities and eventual consolidation of their interests in the Pongas Country from 1890 and their demand that Mission schools teach in French, together with successful recruiting of Mission students by the Roman Catholics and Muslim clerics in Guinea, that finally crippled it. Thus, by 1935 when the Gambia-Pongas Bishopric was established in the hope of rescuing the Mission, this gender-biased Christian enterprise in West Africa was already a spent force.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31759
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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